Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Greetings... Cardinal Collage and Poinsettia Images!

This will most likely be my last post for 2011 since I'm expecting family tomorrow and will be visiting over the next few days with them. On Christmas Eve, I will be cooking dinner for them, myself, friends and cousins who live locally. For your viewing pleasure during the holiday season, here are a couple of Poinsettia images and a collage of cardinals... my favorites in winter! Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year.(wrote this on Dec 22nd, had difficulty posting but here it is finally... I'm sharing this on Macro Monday (Jan 2, 2012) over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and join the fun!)

collage of images as described
Close-up of a miniature Poinsettia taken with iPhone camera, sharpened and cropped with PerfectPhoto, run through AutoPainter with Aquarell effect. Photo and paint layers blended in Iris with 35% opacity for the paint layer.

poinsettia with Happy Holiday greeting
Image taken with Nikon D7000 and Nikon 105mm macro lens at ISO 250, f/3.5, 1/60 sec. Sharpened using Topaz In Focus plug-in in Photoshop... AMAZING! Text added in Photoshop.

collage of images as described
Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal on snowy winter days. (Some of you have seen these before but I just love Cardinals in winter so here they are again, freshly put together as a collage in Picnik.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunrise... Sunset... Four images of sunlight on the water in Cape May, NJ

I keep letting life get in the way of posting on my blog... so sorry! With the holidays fast approaching and another trip in the offing (a short one over the New Year to ring in 2012 with friends in Montana), I'll make no promises that I cannot keep!

collage of images as described
Meanwhile, while at the Cape May, NJ photography workshop recently (with John Barclay and George Brown), I spent quite a lot of time shooting sunlight on the water during both sunrises and sunsets. These four images were captured using a Singh Ray Vari-ND filter with my Nikon D7000 (new toy) fitted with a Nikon 18-200mm lens. The diagonally opposite landscape orientation images are from sunrise on the first morning of the workshop; the other two are from sunset the same day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fall foliage close-up... iPhone fun!

I know I've been missing for a long time... cannot believe my last post was over a month ago... there's been quite a bit of upheaval in my personal life but things are now settling down somewhat. I hope to be a better follower of your blogs and a bit more regular at posting to my own blog!

That said... I've recently been on another photography workshop... this time to Cape May, New Jersey. This image was taken with my iPhone and processed on my iPad. I hope you enjoy the luscious colors as much as I do. :-)

collage of images as described
I'll be posting it to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and join the fun! And if you have the time, you might like to visit my vacation blog where I've posted quite a few images from the Cape May workshop led by John Barclay and George Brown.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scenic Colorado... what a marvelous place to be in the fall...

Just a quick post of one of my favorite landscape images from the Colorado photography tour mentioned in my previous post. And Dutchbaby, if you are listening, check my vacation blog (all others are welcome too) if you want to see more about taking pictures with an iPhone and the apps I used.

collage of images as described
This image was taken with a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 18-200mm lens; three bracketed exposures were combined with Nik HDR Efex Pro. It will most likely be included in my upcoming gallery show (for which I've been frantically preparing since my return from out west) that opens November 5, 2011 at Photoworks of Glen Echo Park. I will be one of three photographers featured in the show.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Something new and different from me... iPhone photos!

collage of images as described
I recently attended a six-day photography workshop shooting fall color in Colorado. It was led by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin and was an absolutely fantastic experience. My brain has been filled to overflowing with new ways of looking at a scene in terms of how to shoot it. In addition, learning about a few applications (apps) for shooting and processing images on the iPhone has been mind-blowing in terms of getting me to think more creatively about presentation of images.

The two images in this collage were both taken with an iPhone 4g. (Please view full size of each using links in the following sentences; including in a collage meant cropping part of each of the images to fit the collage template.) The one on the left was taken with the HDR feature of the Camera app supplied by Apple and available on all iPhones. The one on the right was taken using a program called BracketMode (available for a small fee from the Apple App Store) that takes two exposures, one that is exposed properly for the dark areas of the image and one that is exposed properly for the light areas of the image. The two exposures were then merged using the Pro HDR app to get the final result.

(Note to self... learn how to make my own collage templates to display things as I want them displayed!) Note to readers: I've been home briefly for two days after having been away for three weeks. I am away again to visit family in nearby Pennsylvania for the weekend. I'll be back online properly next week and will visit blogs then.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Clouded Sulphur butterfly on Spotted Knapweed... Montana!

Thought I'd post this collage today just so folks don't think I've dropped off the face of the earth while I'm traveling out west. I will get around to blogs eventually but am slower than usual while on travel.

collage of clouded sulphur butterflies on spotted knapweed flowers
I'm traveling light which means I do not have my macro lens with me. These images were taken with a 70-300mm Nikon telephoto lens (leftover from my film camera that works perfectly fine on my Nikon D90). The image on the left was taken at 300mm while standing about 10 feet away from the action. The other two were taken with the same lens from the same distance but using a 1.4x tele-converter to get closer to the action. I rather like how these turned out, especially since shooting from further away meant that the butterflies weren't disturbed by my presence!

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and join the fun! If you'd like to view the collage up closer, click on the image. The images on the left, middle and right are also available to view large if you want to have a closer look.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Experiment with Vari-ND filter... western exposure!

I'm currently in Red Lodge, Montana and will soon be in Colorado for a photography workshop shooting fall color in the Rockies. A Vari-ND filter is one piece of equipment that it was recommended we bring with us to the photography workshop. Since I've never used one before, it seemed to make sense to spend some time learning a bit about it before the workshop.

The image below shows two shots of the same scene (camera moved a bit so the images aren't exactly identical). Compare the water appearance in the two photos and you will be able to see the difference between shooting with (on the right) and without (on the left) a Vari-ND filter. I have much more to learn about using this filter but wanted to share these images with you and let you know that I'm mostly away from blogging while traveling in the wild west.

collage of images as described
This is the West Fork of Rock Creek as seen from under the bridge at the entry to the parking lot for the Silver Run hiking trail. I was balancing my tripod on rocks and myself as well so was having trouble keeping the exact same scene in my viewfinder.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wildflowers of Sweden's alpine region... help with ID on two if you can...

collage of images as described
It seems my notes weren't as complete as I'd thought... I know the Common Yellow Violet and the Forget-me-not... but I do not know the two flowers on the right side of the collage (see ADDENDUM below for update on one of the unknowns). Click the collage for larger view; for the two unknowns, a closer view of the top right and/or bottom right may help with an ID if you think you know either of them. And if you do, please advise! And thanks for looking. I will be traveling soon and may find it difficult to post while on travel. In the meantime, this is my post for Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and join the fun!

ADDENDUM: As montucky pointed out, this looks like Bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) and is, in fact, its sister species, the Swedish Cornel (Cornus suecica). According to one reference I found, "both have flowers that bloom explosively." And if you thought it looked like a dogwood blossom, you won't be surprised to know that this tiny shrub is a member of the dogwood family.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Backyard Birds... Spring and Summer, 2011

Hope I make the deadline for World Bird Wednesday... whether or not I do, you should check it out! Feel free to click the collages to see a larger image of each.

collage of images as described
Female Cardinal wondering what I'm doing; male Cardinal escaping from the deck and male House Finch posing.

collage of images as described
Female (or young?) House Sparrow doing who knows what... have never seen such a pose! I put out some bread crumbs and blueberries on the table outside... the Sparrows didn't know what to make of the blueberries and left them behind when eating the breadcrumbs... I'm not sure which of the many birds visiting my garden finally ate the blueberries. Maybe a bluejay! In the last image, I imagine the sparrow is yelling to come and get it before he eats all of it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hoverfly approaching wildflower... whirr of wings... Sweden, 2011.

Oh dear... it's very late in the evening, or early in the morning... and I just realized I need a post for Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... so here you go! If you haven't stopped by yet to check out the lovely macro images, do stop by and have a look.

hoverfly on approach to wildflowerThis is an image from our visit to the Västerbottens open air museum in Gammlia, Umeå, Sweden. If you'd like to read more about that visit, please check my vacation blog. As for this image, I just happened to wander over to some lovely flowers for a closer look and spotted the hoverfly... I've never managed to capture one 'on the move' before so hope you like this!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Busy bee on wildflower... High Coast of Sweden, 2011.

Still wading through images from my trip to Sweden in mid-June... posted another day of travel on my other blog if you want to have a look. In the meantime, here are a couple of bumble-bee images from our visit to the High Coast area of Sweden. This bee is different from our bumble-bees here in the US and I don't know the wildflower either!

bumble-bee on wildflower
Busy Bumble-bee on unknown wildflower.

bumble-bee in flight
Busy Bumble-bee heading off to visit somewhere else...

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and join the fun!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sharp-shinned Hawk revisited... from the winter of 2011.

In March, as some of you may recall, I posted a single image from a series of images captured while photographing a Sharp-shinned Hawk perched in a neighbor's silver maple. He was EXTREMELY interested in the House Sparrows that he could see and hear cheeping in fear while 'hiding' down below him in the brambles of a wild rose bush that is about 10 feet in diameter and over 7 feet tall. The sparrows were either gathered on the ground or perched on the lowest limbs of the rose bush and were inaccessible as far as the raptor was concerned.

I was having breakfast when I spotted him on a cold day in March so I grabbed my camera and dashed outside, hoping to not spook him. He was clearly more interested in the sparrows than any silly photographer and I snapped pictures until I nearly froze because I'd run out without putting on a coat or gloves! While revisiting these images the other day, it occurred to me that some of them tell a story so here you go.

Is this my best side?
Or is this?
OK, I can hear the sparrows... but where are they?
What? Those sparrows are hiding in the rose brambles???
That's too bad... I think I'll see what's on the other side of the garden.
Aren't you tired of taking pictures yet?!
Between the previous perch and this one, he landed within 10 feet of me on the fence... I don't know who was more surprised between the two of us... the hawk or me! He didn't stay long here and by the time he landed here, I'd been out for 20 minutes or more in freezing cold so was finished taking pictures anyway!

I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday later on... if you haven't found your way there yet, do drop by and have a look!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Mystery Flower from travels in northern Sweden - 2011

In the category of you can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time... at least one of you expressed appreciation for my images being posted full size rather than the smaller size used for the previous post. And although I quite agree, I am going to continue posting smaller size because people using an iPad to view my images won't see the larger ones properly.

I appreciate the suggestions I've received about Google's blog code doing things automatically... but I hacked the template I'm using now when I first started writing my blogs because NONE of the templates worked to display the images 'out of the box' the way I wanted to display them. One of these days, I will investigate using a different blog template to see if I can resolve this dilemma. In the meantime, I'm happy to have worked out the code to allow you to click the smaller image to reveal the full size one!

This lovely little wildflower is one of many we saw in northern Sweden while hiking with our cousins near their home in Vägsele and again near their summer home in Tärnaby. I had written down the name, both common and Latin, but have no idea what happened to those notes. If any of you know what this is, please enlighten me. (Addendum: august2011 of August Break knew that Melampyrum pratense is commonly called Cow-wheat and kindly supplied the ID for me!) The tiny, tubular flowers are approximately .75 inches (20 cm) in length and the plant is low to the ground and grows in forests. (I cannot recall whether or not we also saw it growing in full sun.)

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come on over and check it out.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flora of Sweden Continued... 2011

NatureFootstep (visit his bird blog for some very nice images) commented on my previous post that he could not see complete images at the size I post them without expanding his browser size... for some time, it has bothered me that I don't know how to scale images properly for smaller screens and still give readers the ability to view the images in a larger size.

Between his comment and one posted by Vagabonde (a visit to her blog is a learning experience full of lovely images) on my vacation blog, I was inspired to try to figure out how to post smaller images... and to figure out how to include the code that would display the large size of an image by clicking on the smaller one posted here. Success! (I will not be going back and changing the code on every image prior to this post!)

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... make sure you stop by and check out the lovely macros... and join the fun! This collage represents three different types of flora seen while traveling in Sweden last month: mosses, lichens and other tiny forest plants, Northern Wolfsbane and a pine cone with just a few pine needles surrounding it.

I had asked last week for folks to let me know what they thought about the idea of combining my vacation blog (new post on Stockholm as of today) with this blog... results are mixed and I'm torn so will keep the blogs separate for now. I'll leave you for today with some information about Northern Wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum, large image), a plant with which I was unfamiliar until seeing it in Sweden. It is a herbaceous perennial native to Europe and northern Asia that grows about 3 feet tall; all parts of the plant are poisonous.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mallards... as commonly seen in Sweden as they are here in the US! Summer, 2011

female mallard
Female Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos seen in one of the many water features on the grounds at Drottningholm Palace, the official home of the Swedish royal family since 1981. Visit my vacation blog for more information and images of our visit to Drottningholm.

male mallard
A few days and miles away from the female above, this Male Mallard was enjoying a pond at Gammlia, an outdoor park in Umeå. I'll be posting about our visit to Umeå on my vacation blog at some point.

I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday later on and would appreciate feedback on whether or not I should combine my vacation blog and photography blog into one blog? One of my readers suggested that idea to me and I'm definitely open to doing that since I cannot figure out how to do BIG pictures on my vacation blog. (Of course, BIG pictures don't scale for mobile devices and I'm totally inept at figuring out how to code my blog to downsize the images for mobile devices... keep hoping Google/blogspot will do it for me!) And while I'm open to combining my blogs, it will take some thought to figure out how to do it properly and not lose anything! (may have to call on a tech geek in the form of my brilliant nephew Dan for assistance should I go forward with the idea)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flora of Sweden from June, 2011...

wild geranium with bumblebee
Some plants we saw in Sweden I'd never seen before... but Wild Geranium grows in my own garden so this one was easily recognizable. The busy bee was a bonus.

tiny plants growing in the forest
Images of tiny mosses, lichens and succulents growing on the forest floor, seen while hiking near Vägsele, Sweden with cousins Sture and Inger.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... stop by and check out the other entries.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Continuing with some images from Sweden and Iceland... BIRDS!

I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday as the images are birds of the world outside my usual viewing environment. I do have one request for an ID on one of the birds shown in the collage of birds of Sweden, below. I'll be posting more of my adventures in Sweden and Iceland to my travel blog but am definitely finding that slow going... so far nothing new there since my fourth post about our journey added three days ago.

birds of Sweden
Viewing from the upper left corner, the birds shown are a Jackdaw, Coloeus monedula ssp monedula (Wikipedia reference); a Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus; a European Magpie, Pica pica; and the White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, which has been kindly identified by Andrew who writes rambles with a camera. I had noted when I first posted this morning that I needed an ID for the fourth bird and that it has a flight pattern similar to a lark... when it is on the ground... it darts around and is rarely still, making it extremely hard to photograph. We saw it in parks and roadsides nearly everywhere in Sweden and Iceland too. (the links on the bird's names take you to the full size image for each)

The Puffin images are not the best images of birds I've ever managed... but they were so much fun to see and watch. I hope you enjoy them. The large image shows MANY birds onshore and is more picturesque than it is useful if you are a serious birder and want to see details... the center image below is another picturesque view of the Puffin colony, this time with quite a few in flight, as seen from the distance while on a rocking boat... not the best of conditions for sharply focused images! And the others are two of the better close views (still not very close!) that I was able to capture of two Puffins at ease on the water and one of a Puffin coming in for a landing. From National Geographic's Puffin page, I learned that these birds are fast fliers... by "flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute they can reach speeds of 55 miles (88 kilometers) an hour." No wonder I failed totally at catching one in flight!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heath Spotted Orchid by any name is a tiny wonder... Sweden, 2011

This tiny orchid was blooming almost everywhere we hiked while in the north of Sweden near Tärnaby, Granås and Vägsele. I'm grateful to our cousin Sture's wife Inger who was a wealth of information about the native wildflowers. Her reference books came in handy for researching the scientific names and I came home with most of the flowers I'd photographed already identified.

This lovely flower is also known as Moorland Spotted Orchid and goes by the Swedish name "Jungfru Marie nycklar" which translates to Virgin Mary's hand. This specimen, Dactylorhiza maculata subspecies maculata, is one of many subspecies of this tiny orchid plant that grows about 50 cm high and blooms in June and July. It is a protected species in Sweden.

I have shown two images to demonstrate the difference between using the 18-200mm zoom lens alone (on the left) vs. using the same lens with addition of a Kenko 36mm extension tube. As you can see, carrying lightweight extension tubes allows one to get macro images without carrying a heavy macro lens. Using a true macro lens yields better quality images (based on comparisons done in my garden at home), but nothing beats carrying extension tubes for travel if one doesn't want to carry every lens in their arsenal!

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos later. I'm so far behind everywhere that I have no business doing so but I've missed visiting other's macro images while on travel in Sweden and Iceland and am just going to make time to visit some of you every day until I've made the rounds of blogs I follow (and/or reciprocate your comments) and can then start over again! :-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pottery and tile through the years... samples seen at Göteborgs Stadstmuseum... Spring, 2011

pottery and tile samples
While visiting cousins in Göteborg, Sweden, we spent some time at the Göteborgs Stadsmuseum (Gothenburg City Museum) which houses viking and emigration history as well as a design exhibition that included a jewelry display by our second cousin (twice removed), Matilda. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a decent photograph of her jewelry due to my jet lagged brain not being able to figure out how to reduce the reflections from all the lights shining on the case in which her jewelry was exhibited.

I captured this image because I liked the colors and patterns of the pottery and tile in the showcase. Of course, being jet lagged at the time, I did not think to photograph the captions for the exhibit so other than knowing I liked what I saw, I cannot tell you much about it! I have posted a bit more from our time in Göteborg in my vacation blog if you are interested and have the time to look.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lingonberry blossoms seen in Vägsele, Sweden... Summer, 2011...

Lingonberry blossoms
Lingonberry jam/jelly is something I remember from childhood as being typically Swedish. Our mother was born in the United States but her parents came to the US in the early 1900s and settled in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Although Mom spoke very little Swedish, she did know a lot about her Swedish heritage. These are Lingonberry blossoms... Lingonberry grows wild all over the hills and fields around Vägsele which is the area where her parents (my grandparents) were born and spent their younger years before emigrating to America. I've been posting a little bit about our travels to my vacation blog but am finding it takes a long time to prepare posts between having unreliable Internet access and using an iPad to prepare the posts!

For those who might want to know, this was taken with a Nikon D90 fitted with a 32mm extension tube and a Nikon 18-200mm lens. Using the extension tube with my 'all purpose travel lens' gives me macro lens capability without having to carry the macro lens. :-)

UPDATE on July 11, 2011: I've been back from my Sweden/Iceland trip for almost a week now and am finally feeling somewhat human. Recovery from jet lag is harder the older I get! Meantime, I posted this image 12 days ago thinking I'd post to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos while I was away but that didn't happen. So I'm finally sharing it today! Head on over and check out the other posts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rainy day greenery in the Cathedral flower garden... Gothenberg, Sweden 2011

rainy day greenery in the flower garden
While around Gothenberg on a rainy day... Our first full day in Sweden... We happened upon the main cathedral. While everyone else went inside, I stayed outside for awhile to photograph the flower beds. I rather like this image and hope you will too. I'd post it to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos if I weren't so tired from a long day. You should go check out Macro Monday anyway!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fun with a macro lens... not just for extreme close-ups!

collage of flowers and geese
This collage is another set of images from the macro workshop at Green Springs Garden (mentioned in a previous post). Clockwise from the top left corner: a hoverfly and smaller unidentified insect on an unknown yellow flower (larger image), goslings (larger image), Ninebark 'Coppertina' (Physocarpus opulifolius flower (larger image) and Mama (or Papa) goose with goslings (larger image). I wondered when I posted an image on Flickr that was very similar to the last image how one could tell the sex of an adult goose... a couple of my Flickr friends referred me to a web article telling in more detail than I wanted to know exactly how to tell whether an adult Canadian goose is a male or a female. Personally, I think I will just continue to wonder!

I'll quite possibly be posting this to several linked blogs... Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos, communal global on Tuesday and World Bird Wednesday. I'm sort of running out of time to get ready for travel and will be posting to my vacation blog while I'm away. I've already posted my itinerary for those who might want to follow along with my journey.

In the meantime, I'm hoping to queue up a few blog posts between now and when I leave so that I don't completely drop off everyone's radar while I'm away. :-) I will try to visit blogs while on travel but am not sure how well that will work out since I'm traveling with no computer and will have only my iPhone and a Wi-Fi enabled iPad to use for limited connectivity from time to time as circumstances allow.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rain-drenched Poppy images... Spring 2011

purple poppy
This poppy (am pretty sure that's what it was) caught the eye of everyone who passed by it. This and the next image are from the macro workshop at Green Spring Gardens in Virginia... it is going to be quite awhile before I stop posting images from the workshops I've been taking lately!

insect on poppy flower
I have no idea what this tiny insect is... but it is the master (mistress?) of all he (she?) surveys while standing tall in the center of this poppy.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come join the fun!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunset near Milford, DE... 2011

sunset sky
This sunset sky is from the day before a photography workshop in and near Slaughter Beach, Delaware. We had dinner at a seafood restaurant near where we were staying the night before the workshop. During dinner we looked out the window and notice that it was raining and the sky was completely cloud covered. From our views out the window we were absolutely certain that we wouldn't have a sunset. By the time we finished dinner and walked outdoors, we had ample opportunity to "waste photons" taking numerous pictures of the lovely sunset across the fields near the restaurant. I hope you enjoy this one.

For our workshop, we had a naturalist and a Blue Ridge Workshops instructor guiding us in photographing and learning about the Horseshoe Crabs and the birds who migrate through the area during their breeding season. The Horseshoe Crab come to shore by the thousands during a two week (+/- a few days) period every May to lay their eggs. Migratory birds (as well as resident species) gather to feed on the protein rich eggs, giving spectators quite a show! Visit my other blog if you'd like to read more about this spectacle and see pictures of the crabs as well as of many shore birds and other sights we saw during our day at Slaughter Beach, DE (and nearby).

I'll be posting this to Skywatch® Friday shortly... check it out!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flower duets... rainy day macro workshop at Green Spring Gardens... 2011!

flower collage
Once again posting a collage because I'm in a bit of overwhelm with MANY images I'd love to share with you. This collection of macro images are all part of the result of the macro workshop I attended on May 14, 2011 under the guidance of Blue Ridge Workshops staff. Clockwise from the top left (click any link to view the large size of that image), Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, Columbine, Crucifer* and Spanish Lavender, Lavendula stoechas. I don't know the species of phlox or columbine but both were lovely after the rain stopped.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos; come join the fun.

If you visited last week and I haven't returned the visit, please know that I will do so... lost internet service at the end of the week last week and was then out of town for a couple of days. I do appreciate each and every comment and will be stopping by over the next few days to see what I've been missing on your blogs. :-)

*Dutchbaby pointed out that my "Phlox" was most likely a Crucifer (a flower with which I'm unfamiliar) since Phlox has 5 petals and the flowers in the lower right corner of the collage have only four petals.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starling antics... after suet in my garden... Spring, 2011

starling collage
So I bought a suet feeder that is SUPPOSED to keep birds (such as Starlings and Grackles) from dining on the suet because they don't like to feed upside down. And I hung it temporarily where there is a way to access it from underneath IF standing in just the right spot and stretching to reach the good stuff. Or perhaps, mimic a hummingbird and flap wings rapidly while powering up to the suet feeder. Or, obviously, ignore the belief that Starlings do not like feeding upside down and just pretend to be a woodpecker and have at the suet until sated!

I do intend to move this suet feeder where approaching from underneath will not be quite so easy to do. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the images. I watched these silly birds for quite awhile today and snapped away like crazy. I'd have never done that with a film camera!

Maybe next week I'll include a series of images of a quite frustrated Catbird attempting a similar approach and not quite succeeding. In the meantime, I'll be posting this at World Bird Wednesday which you should definitely check out for some marvelous bird images!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

'Blue Wonder' Catmint... tiny blossom... big bokeh!

Blue Wonder Catmint with rain droplets
This image is from a workshop in macro photography given 'on site' at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. The day started out with misty rain and then a bit heavier sprinkles but the rain soon stopped, leaving us with gray skies and cool weather. For the better part of our adventure, we had ample opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds and capture marvelous flowers (and even an insect, spider or geese and water features at the ponds) with our macro lenses. Blue Ridge Mountain Workshops delivered another fine adventure in photography!

This is one of my favorite images from the day... if you know this plant, you will know the flowers are TINY! This was taken with my 20mm Kenko extension tube plus Nikon 105mm macro lens... the pink bokeh is from the phlox flowers planted in and around the Catmint. If you'd like to view more of my images from the workshop, I've posted 26 in a web album. The slide show takes less than one minute to view.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come join the fun and check out all the lovely macro images!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sweat Bee on Star of Bethlehem flower... Spring 2011.

sweat bee on star of Bethlehem flower
I believe this tiny Sweat Bee is Augochlora pura based on research in BugGuide. They move really fast while gathering pollen so it's tricky to get a clear shot. Their iridescent colors always catch my eye in the garden.

As for the flower, it seems to be a defective Star of Bethlehem in that it only has five petals whereas every other one blooming in my garden has the typical six-petal flower form of Ornithogalum umbellatum. The flowers are gorgeous and have volunteered themselves all over my garden.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... you should check it out! Her blog is pretty terrific!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Backyard Birds... frequent visitors to the feeders... Spring, 2011

four birds
To view larger images of the birds pictured here, just follow the link for each. Clockwise, from the upper left corner: a female House Sparrow (Passer domesticus); a male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus); a male Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula); and a female Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

I'm sharing this today at World Bird Wednesday... stop by to view other bird images and add your own.

Regulars might have noted from earlier posts that I've been having work done at my house (creating chaos) and also have been having computer problems... so I'm a bit behind at returning visits. The computer problem has been solved... the work at the house continues to create chaos! I'll be stopping by eventually to return visits and thank you for yours!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Squirrel proof... HA! I think not... Spring, 2011...

So much for my newest squirrel-proof feeder. I will have to try to get a longer shot of their technique, but they have certainly figured this one out after a couple of months of failure at getting seed from it. Clockwise from top left (link in each description leads to a larger image):
Quick reminder that I might be slower than usual returning visits due to a floor refinishing and painting project causing chaos at my house... and while my house is torn apart... my computer will be in the shop. I'll still have my laptop but it slows me down a lot to use that!

Meanwhile, I'll be sharing this over at communal global shortly... my today was total chaos due to the above mentioned home improvement project so I'm sharing this collage of squirrels from a few days ago.

Color Explosion... Tulip Beauty... Spring, 2011!

red and yellow tulip
I've recently discovered that the size I'm using to post my images doesn't work well on smaller screens... and it also doesn't work on the iPad. So I'm experimenting with posting a smaller size and will be testing viewing on my laptop and elsewhere to see if this helps. Larger

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos shortly... come on over and join the fun. Also, please be aware that I'll be slower than usual returning visits due to a floor refinishing and painting project that starts tomorrow... while my house is torn apart... my computer will be in the shop. I'll still have my laptop but it slows me down a lot to use that!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Song Sparrow on my garden fence... Spring, 2011

Song Sparrow in the garden
House (also called English) Sparrows are every day visitors to my bird feeders. One day last week, I spotted a different looking sparrow and managed to snap one decent picture before it disappeared. Out came the books to attempt an ID. Fortunately, this one is different enough from others that I was able to identify it with 99% certainty as Melospiza melodia and then got confirmation from a couple of Flickr friends who are REALLY good birders!

I've posted this to communal global and will be posting it shortly to Sweet Shot Tuesday and later today to World Bird Wednesday. I'm fairly new to the notion of sharing images through other's blogs and am finding it fun to do so come on and join the fun! :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bishops' Mitre (Epimedium x Rubrum) ... Spring 2011

maroon red and white Epimedium blossom
I do so look forward to these tiny flower blossoms every spring. Their delicate beauty fascinates me as do all the lovely details visible in a very close macro shot such as this one. In case you don't know this flower, the size of a single blossom is 10-12mm across (about the size of a dime US currency) so that gives you a sense of how tiny the ant is that was crawling around on this blossom! (taken while lying flat on the ground to get down to "eye" level with the blossoms)

This is a shade loving, low growing, ground cover plant that naturalizes slowly to cover a larger area of the garden each year. My garden has quite a lot of shady area!

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... on Monday, of course!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Washington Monument in late afternoon light... Washington, DC Spring 2011

Washington Monument at dusk
My cousin Jane and our friends Dennis and Susie took a photography workshop with Blue Ridge Workshops this past Sunday evening... we were learning about night photography while photographing the war memorials on the Mall in Washington, DC. This image was taken just as the sun broke through the clouds near sunset... it lit up the monument beautifully. Look closely and you'll be able to see the Capitol Building through the flags to the left of the base of the Washington Monument.

Posted to share at communal global for Tuesdays around the World.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Candytuft... perfection in miniature in the spring garden... 2011

Candytuft in sunlight
I'm finally getting back to somewhat normal after being away for a family funeral (mentioned in the previous post) and coming home with a miserable cold. Yesterday was the first day I felt mostly human again and it poured down rain all day. Today is bright and sunny and I was inspired to get outdoors and take a few pictures of the garden blossoms.

Last year, my attempts to photograph my Candytuft in bloom were mostly failures but I'm rather pleased with this image which required almost no post-processing except for a minor crop and slight brightness adjustment. Hope you enjoy this and that you have a marvelous week ahead of you. I'll be slowly making my way around to blogs over the next week or so... it's amazing how far behind one can fall by being basically off-line for only 11 days!

Posted to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... come join the fun!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In memory of Robin... August 15, 1937 - April 6, 2011

pink flowering tree blossom
My half-brother Robin passed away April 6, 2011 after a long illness. Many family members (myself included) were with him at the end. He was an avid gardener and spent many happy hours studying plants as well as growing many lovely specimens in his garden.

Thanks to montucky at Montana Outdoors, I now know the name of the flowering tree whose blossom I've shown here. My sister-in-law told me the plant name was "oo-me" which I spelled phonetically to represent how she pronounced it. I'd tried to find information about it by just about every possible combination and permutation of letters and had failed to find it. But thanks to montucky, I now know it the name is spelled "ume" and the tree, Prunus mume, is known by several common names, among them Japanese apricot and Chinese plum. The blossoms range from white to the deep pink shown here.

I'm posting this image in Robin's memory as it seems a fitting tribute to share something of beauty that he enjoyed. I promise to return visits as soon as I'm able but am spending family time this week and am not online nearly as much as usual. (did take a few minutes time today to post this at Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... stop by and join the fun...)